How to Train for a Marathon on a Treadmill

How to Train for a Marathon on a Treadmill (Last Updated On: August 5, 2022)

There are times during the year when the weather makes it tough to perform your marathon training outside.

Zach Bitter Marathon Training on Treadmill

Even short runs in hot conditions might feel like they last forever.

And cold weather… Where should I start? It might make it difficult to get your scheduled workout completed. Not to mention that shorter days and icy conditions can be dangerous.

So, is it possible to train for a marathon on a treadmill?

The answer is yes.

In fact, during COVID, Zach Bitter set an ultra marathon record on his home treadmill. 

The latest technology has merged forces with treadmill machines bringing a unique combination of real-life experience while protecting your joints, and not ever having to leave your house.

Let’s jump right into a few quick tips to ensure that your treadmill marathon training goes as smoothly as possible. 

4 Quick Tips for Treadmill Marathon Training

Tip #1: Simulate the Outdoors

Although you can complete your marathon training indoors, it’s obvious that your actual marathon race will take place outdoors. So, it’s important to simulate your terrain as much as possible. Rather than just looking at the 4 walls of your home while you’re running, opt for a treadmill that offers interactive fitness technology. These fitness programs will allow you to mimic going up and down hills, navigate different types of terrains, and make it “seem” like you’re actually outdoors.

While running outdoors, you’re a subject to the elements. Rain, wind, heat, incline, debris, etc. So, finding a treadmill that has interactive technology and allows you to decline and incline to mimic real-road running as much as possible is crucial. (It also helps to fight boredom on your long indoor runs, too!)

#2: Warm-Up

Okay, if you’re a runner we probably don’t have to tell you that a warm-up is really important. When you go for an outdoor run, you typically don’t immediately start at your fastest pace. Rather, you begin with some stretching and probably ease into your desired pace. You should follow the same practices for treadmill marathon training. 

man running on treadmill for marathon training

#3: Keep Your Form in Check

A great way to bring your marathon training to a screeching halt is to run with improper form. Bad form while running can quickly lead to pain or injury. Particularly if you’re using an interactive fitness technology on your screen, or binge-watching your favorite Netflix show, keep your form in-check. Avoid hunching while looking at any screens.

#4: Hands-Off!

One of the most tempting things about training for a marathon on a treadmill is grabbing onto the handrails when you get tired. Unfortunately, you can’t do this when you’re running your marathon race. So, as tempting as it is, try to avoid using the handrails as a clutch during your training. Rather, if you get tired, focus on slowing your cadence.

And, of course if we post some quick tips – there’s also a few things that you should avoid when training for a marathon on your treadmill.

  • Wearing uncomfortable shoes – This probably goes without saying for most runners, but the right shoe can make or break your running training.
  • Working out barefoot – Although some people like the feeling of running barefoot, treadmill belts can make your feet sweaty and slick, and cause a dangerous scenario.
  • Swinging your arms – It’s a bit more tempting to swing your arms around aimlessly while running on your treadmill, especially if you’re watching something and distracted. Keep a check on your form and keep your arms parallel to your sides.
  • Taking no days off – We get it. Your treadmill is right inside your home and you can train anytime that you want to. However, taking no days off can not only be detrimental to your training goals, but also to your mental health. Rest days are important.

Necessary Features on a Treadmill for Marathon Training

Our very own Treadmill-Ratings-Reviews team member Rachael Kraft has ran many races, half-marathons and marathons included. (Check out her 1st time Half-Marathon diary articles – Part 1 and Part 2!)

So, for the methodology of picking out the best treadmills for marathon training, we knew that we had to consult our in-house expert. After interviewing Rachael, there are a few features we made sure that each treadmill on our list featured to maximize your marathon training efforts.

  1. A Strong Motor: When you’re training for a marathon on a treadmill, you’ll be putting in miles and miles on a daily basis. So, it’s important that your treadmill has a strong motor and is able to keep up with your training program without wearing down.
  2. Great Shock Absorption: A good shock absorption treadmill is critical for training for any type of race. The right type of shock absorption will help to prevent injury and keep you comfortable while running.
  3. Large Running Area: A lot of treadmills come standard with a 20″ x 50″ deck area. However, according to Rachael, when you’re running for long periods of time this can begin to feel cramped. So, we opted for larger belts in our treadmill for marathon training line up. 
  4. Screen: Training on an indoor treadmill can often lead to boredom. In order to combat this, we ensured that all the treadmills on our list offered a nice size screen so that you can view your workout stats, or…
  5. Fitness Technology: Using fitness technology. Several fitness equipment brands now offer interactive fitness technology that can aid your marathon training program.
  6. Heavy-Build: Typically, when you’re looking for an in-home treadmill, a lot of people look for lightweight machines that are easy to move. However, when you’re using a treadmill for marathon training, you’ll want to make sure that the treadmill is heavy-duty. The reason for this is that while you’re running for a long period of time, you don’t want your treadmill bouncing all around and feeling unstable. 

Best Treadmills for Marathon Training

#1 Pick: The Ultra-Marathoner Favorite – NordicTrack X22i Commercial Incline Treadmill

As we mentioned earlier, Zach Bitter smashed an ultra-marathon record in the comfort of his own home. His preferred weapon of choice? The NordicTrack X22i Treadmill

Our Experts Testing the Incline Trainer at NordicTrack Headquarters

Price: $2,999

Deck Size: 22″ x 60″

Screen: 22″ HD Touchscreen

Fitness Technology: iFit Interactive Technology

Motor: 4.0 HP

Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor

Consumer Rating: 4.8/5 stars


  • Large deck
  • Strong motor
  • Fitness technology
  • -6% decline up to 40% incline
  • 12 MPH max speed
  • Great deck cushioning


  • Fans aren’t that great
  • Only 30-day iFit subscription is included
  • Warranty is not the best

Compare Current Pricing Below to Get the Best Deal! 

#2 Pick: Sole F85 Treadmill

If your main priority is a durable treadmill, look no further than the Sole F85 treadmill. This machine is built to take a beating.


  • Large deck
  • Strong motor
  • Excellent warranty
  • Up to 15% incline (no decline)
  • Cushion Flex Whisper Deck
  • 12 MPH top speed


  • Screen quality isn’t the best
  • No decline
  • Speaker output is not as good as other brands

Compare Current Pricing Below to Get the Best Deal! 

The Bottom Line: Should You Use a Treadmill for Marathon Training?

We’ve debunked the notion that it’s not possible to train for a marathon on a treadmill, it definitely is possible.

However, deciding if it’s right for you will be a decision that only you can make. 

Weigh the pros and cons of being able to train indoors vs. outdoors.

How does it effect your training?

What is your preference?

Are you always able to make it to an outdoor workout?

Do you have a good place to put a treadmill? 

Whether or not you decide to completely train for your marathon on a treadmill, running on a treadmill has many benefits, and provides greater accessibility to exercise than hitting the gym or depending on the weather to cooperate. It might be something that you can incorporate into your program to mix it up.

Happy running!